Coach Kevin Walters during a Queensland State of Origin team training session in Brisbane.
Coach Kevin Walters during a Queensland State of Origin team training session in Brisbane. DAVE HUNT

Emotional Kevvie was an inspirational vision

APART from the patently obvious reason - talent - Queensland has won 10 of the past 11 State of Origin series because of two vital components: loyalty and passion.

And the sight of Maroons coach Kevin Walters verging on bursting into tears as he revealed the heartbreak for him and his fellow selectors leaving Billy Slater out of the Queensland team for game one next week typifies just what that loyalty and passion is all about.

His reaction was as raw as sporting emotion gets.

Walters, one of five brothers who wore the Maroon of Queensland as schoolboys, is a knockabout bloke.

As a footballer he was hugely talented and tough, and reached the pinnacle of the game with 20 Origins for Queensland and 11 Tests for the Kangaroos.

He played most of those games in the same team as his Ipswich mate Alfie Langer and together, off the field, they were the game's consummate pranksters and larrikins.

Their antics even forced a laugh from Wayne Bennett.

But no one who knew the pair well ever doubted their passion for the game, or the love of the jersey they wore.

And that desire is mirrored in the success they achieved as players.

To watch Kevvie's bottom lip quiver during the team announcement on Monday, as he explained why comeback king Slater had been overlooked, was a rare insight into a man who has never been afraid to display public emotion.

One of the most courageous efforts I have seen from any man was him delivering the eulogy at the funeral of his wife, Kim, at St James Anglican Church in Toowoomba in 1998.

Kim, who with Kevin had three young boys, died from breast cancer aged 30.

Genuine emotion cannot be faked, and the man now coaching one of the most successful sporting teams on the planet will no doubt bring that - with his 17 players - to the table at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.

As for Queensland loyalty, that cannot be faked either, although some have called the selections bumbling, and a fake.

Overlooking Billy Slater was, in my eyes, a surprise. But on reflection it was merely following the Queensland blueprint.

Despite a successful recent return from shoulder surgery, Slater has not played Origin since game two of 2015.

Darius Boyd, conversely, won the Ron McAuliffe Medal as Queensland's player of the series at fullback last year and was voted by his peers as players' player in two of the three matches.

Some criticism was also aimed at the selection panel of Walters, Darren Lockyer and Gene Miles for the inclusion of veteran forwards Nate Myles and Jacob Lillyman, who have not been in peak form in season 2017.

But no doubt sitting firmly in the minds of those selectors was the heroic efforts of many unsung Queensland heroes over the years, pulling out epic Origin performances despite indifferent club form at the time.

And at the top of that list was the legendary Arthur Beetson in the inaugural Origin game of 1980, selected from Parramatta's reserve-grade side.

Passion plus loyalty is a winning Maroon combination.

News Corp Australia

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